Damage to Marathon Cart Doesn’t Slow Ijsbrand Chardon at the World Equestrian Games

Ijsbrand Chardon
Click for larger image. Ijsbrand Chardon won the marathon and is in second place overall after the second day of World Equestrian Games combined driving. Photo: Leslie Potter

After his record-breaking dressage score on Friday, Australia’s Boyd Exell continued on his path to gold, maintaining his lead after the marathon phase at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Ijsbrand Chardon of the Netherlands turned in the winning marathon drive and remains in second place in spite of a serious situation involving his marathon carriage. At some point during the night, the carriage was vandalized. When his son uncovered the carriage on Saturday morning to prepare it for competition, he found the grooms’ seats had been slashed with a sharp object and fluid from the vehicle’s braking system had been poured over the carriage. Initially the ground jury was unwilling to allow Chardon to delay his start time, but after consulting with the chefs d’equipe of all the teams, they permitted him to move his drive to the end of the day, giving his crew enough time to quickly repair the damages.

Kentucky State Police are currently investigating the situation and reviewing security camera footage from the area where the carriage was kept overnight. During a press conference following Saturday’s competition, Chardon emphasized that he did not believe that any of his competitors were involved in the incident or that he had been personally targeted. No other equipment and no horses were hurt.

The marathon phase of combined driving consists of three sections. The first is a timed walk and trot section through an open course of just under 7km, followed by a 1km walk. After that, the horses are held for ten minutes and checked by a vet before embarking on the hazards. At this World Equestrian Games, this section was 8.49km and had 8 hazards. The drivers must finish the entire section within the optimal time, but each individual hazard is timed separately, and the total time for the hazards alone is typically what separates the top entries.

Chardon remains in good spirits in spite of the damage to his vehicle. “Today my goal was to come in on time, and tonight I will sleep very well,” he said through a translator. “Tomorrow my goal is to have no faults and to put the pressure on Boyd [Exell].”

Chardon was tied with American Chester Weber after dressage, but Weber dropped several positions down the leaderboard during the marathon after having some trouble in two of the hazards. American Tucker Johnson, tied for fourth after dressage, has moved up to third place.

Johnson was happy with his successful marathon and is optimistic heading into the cones phase on Sunday.

“I’m going to go clean. That’s my goal,” he said of the remaining phase. “If I can achieve that, that would be my first [WEG] medal, and that would be a great experience. I’m going to go in with a clear head in the morning and drive the way I’ve been practicing.”

His success at this event won’t cause Johnson to rethink his decision to retire from international competition. “I’m really happy with my choice,” he remarked, “I think I’ve done one of the best marathons I’ve ever driven.”

The Netherlands is currently leading the team standings with the United States still holding on to second place. Sweden is in third with Australia in fourth by less than a single point. The final results will be sorted out on Sunday, the obstacle (cones) phase of competition, and the final day of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

For full results, visit www.alltechfeigames.com/results.

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